Over the last week or so, multiple stories in the news have been asking why the media is ignoring the kidnapping of more than 200 girls (some reports say as many as 276) by Boko Haram, an extremist anti-Western group in Nigeria. Yet there have been literally hundreds of Facebook posts, thousands of tweets, and dozens of stories in the media about what is going on. It took a week or two — longer than it should have, yes, considering the horror of what has been perpetrated — but in the end, this case has gotten more attention than any single case of girls abducted in armed conflict in recent memory, possibly ever. People are paying attention.
As that becomes evident, all the outcry over “why aren’t we paying attention” starts to look like it’s part of a deeper public distress: Why have we not paid attention in the past when thousands of girls — and boys — have been abducted in armed conflict? Why aren’t we paying attention, right now, to the girls caught in human trafficking webs or sold into early marriages or held in captivity as “wives” by armed groups? Why are we only now outraged? And will this outrage sustain itself as situations like this one unendingly arise? Will any amount of anger lead to any concrete solution? Continue reading →
Congolese Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Kisempia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Fresh from a victory over the rebel troops of the Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23) in the unsettled but resource-rich Nord-Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Congolese army has launched an offensive against the self-described “Islamists” of the Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF-NALU) who have operated in that region since 2004.  After several years of dormancy, ADF-NALU renewed operations in July 2013 with a wave of raids, kidnappings, massacres of civilians and attacks on security forces and UN peacekeepers. The once poorly-armed ADF-NALU militants appear to be newly supplied with machine-guns, mortars and rockets to replace their previous reliance on machetes and knives. According to the UN, M23’s defeat was followed by large-scale surrenders by thousands of members of various militant groups in the Nord-Kivu region, but few of these came from ADF-NALU (IRIN, January 27).
The operation against ADF-NALU was intended to begin in December 2013 but was delayed after the intended leader of the campaign, Colonel Mamadou Moustafa Ndala, was killed by a rocket in an ambush originally attributed to ADF-NALU fighters in early January (Uganda Radio Network, February 1). Continue reading →
cc Wiki The US leads the world in the global war against terror. It has ranked Sudan among nations that support terrorism. Yet despite ample evidence of Khartoum’s terrorist activities within and outside the country, the US treats the Sudanese regime as a cherished ally
Given the U.S. intelligence community’s eager relationship with Khartoum, it would be convenient if the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime were no longer in the business of supporting international terrorism and no longer on the State Department list of state sponsors of international terrorism. Of course, the domestic terrorism wrought in Darfur, Blue Nile, South Kordofan, Abyei, and among those who would resist the regime’s brutal tyranny seems of little concern to the Central Intelligence Agency and other of the myriad intelligence-gathering agencies dealing with the very real and ongoing threat of international terrorism. Indeed, there seems to have been a general loss of moral balance in how the intelligence community thinks and operates, even as its influence in domestic and foreign policy continues to grow rapidly.
For example, so eager was the CIA to improve relations with the Khartoum regime that in 2005 the agency decided to fly to Langley, Virginia (CIA headquarters)—on executive jet—Major-General Saleh Gosh, then head of Khartoum’s intelligence services and, critically, minder of Osama bin Laden during his time in Khartoum: 1992 – 1996, formative years for al-Qaeda. It mattered little that Gosh’s hands were covered with the blood of political detainees and any perceived opponents of the regime. And it mattered little that Gosh was instrumental in carrying out the genocidal counter-insurgency campaign in Darfur, then at its height. He had information the CIA wanted, and the price to be paid was a trip to Washington. Continue reading →
Polar regions: New US Navy Arctic strategy calls for more icebreakers.
Ugandan army helping South Sudan fight rebels as UN warns of war crimes
Uganda has issued a statement about its forces assisting the South Sudanese Army in its fight against rebels. On 15 January, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni admitted for the first time helping South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir fight the rebels. Museveni stated that Ugandan soldiers helped defeat rebel forces outside of Juba on 13 January. On 16 January, Uganda’s military spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Paddy Ankunda, announced that Ugandan troops were engaged in efforts to drive rebel forces from Bor, a strategically important town near the capital, Juba.
Border clashes and insecurity along the border between Western Bahr El Ghazal and South Darfur have affected thousands of people in Raja County, causing displacement and suffering, according to the county executive.
Most of the inhabitants of Radom and Sira Malaka bomas have moved toward Fireka Boma, south of Raja, where they are facing lack of health services and food.
Raja County Commissioner Rizik Dominic told Radio Tamazuj in a phone interview on Tuesday that more than 10 thousand people in Raja County are lacking basic services as a result of border clashes in May. He explained that the situation in Fireka is worsened by fear of attacks attributed to the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has driven a number of South Sudanese away from the western border.
He explained that the local services are not enough for such a large number of people. Additionally, a number of Darfuri refugees have been living in Raja County for many years.
The commissioner explained that the bad road conditions are not allowing aid to reach Fireka and other areas.
He added that the local government is trying to link up with NGOs in order to find other ways to support the citizens in these emergency situations
Mr. Dominic appealed to NGOs to provide helicopters to deliver humanitarian aid while he also called on the government to improve the road conditions.
The Commissioner further said that at the moment the situation at Raja County’s border is unpredictable and Khartoum is still flying more soldiers into the border areas.
Ibrahim al Qosi pleaded guilty to terror charges in July 2010 in exchange for the possibility of release after serving a two-year sentence.
U.S. troops spirited him from the remote base days after his war crimes sentence ran out and dropped him off in the capital city Khartoum about 8 p.m. Miami time Tuesday night, Wednesday in Sudan, U.S. government sources said.
The Pentagon has not yet disclosed the transfer — which reduced the number of foreign prisoners at the Navy base in Cuba to 168 — to give Sudanese officials time to put the returnee in a rehabilitation program in the Horn of Africa nation. But the repatriation demonstrated that the Obama administration is still in the business of deal-making and downsizing the prison camps even as the Defense Department is planning to spend $40 million on an undersea telecommunications cable to the base in southeast Cuba.
Now-grown “child soldier” Omar Khadr could go next, to a lock-up in his native Canada. The White House is also reportedly considering transferring some Taliban captives at Guantánamo to Afghanistan as part of a regional peace accord there.
The release of Qosi was the first of a convicted war criminal since the Bush administration sent home Yemeni Salim Hamdan in 2008. Qosi’s attorney argued the U.S. had no reason to fear the Sudanese man.
“He is now in his 50s, eager only to spend his life at home with his family in Sudan — his mother and father, his wife and two teenage daughters, and his brothers and their families — and live among them in peace, quiet and freedom,” said Washington, D.C., attorney Paul Reichler, who defended Qosi without charge for seven years.
Map of Western Bahr el Ghazal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Claudio Gramizzi and Jérôme Tubiana, 11 July 2012
Amid claims of declining violence and wider regional transformations, the Darfur conflict has all but vanished from the international agenda since 2010. Virtually unnoticed by the international community, the conflict has moved into a new phase, in which the Government of Sudan has shifted away from using Arab proxy militias only to rely on newly formed (and newly armed) non-Arab proxies.
‘Forgotten Darfur‘ documents how this development has fundamentally changed the ethnic map of eastern Darfur, drawing on previously latent tensions between non-Arab groups over land, ethnicity, and local political dominance–and generating some of the most significant ethnically directed violence since the start of the conflict in 2003.
The ‘new’ war in eastern Darfur, which erupted in late 2010 and early 2011, has pitted non-Arab groups against other non-Arabs; specifically, government-backed militias drawn from small, previously marginalized non-Arab groups–including the Bergid, Berti, and Tunjur–deployed against Zaghawa rebel groups and communities.
‘Forgotten Darfur’ also reports how patterns of arms supplies to Sudanese government forces and proxy militias in Darfur have been almost entirely unimpeded by the international community, including the ineffectual UN arms embargo on Darfur. The Sudan Air Force has continued to move weapons into Darfur with complete impunity; it supported ground attacks with aerial bombardment in all of Darfur’s states during 2011 and in West and North Darfur during 2012, despite the UN Security Council’s prohibition on such offensive aerial operations since 2005.
The report also documents how transformations, regime change, and realignments in Chad, Libya, and South Sudan have not fully removed either the mechanisms of the motives for cross-border flows of arms, personnel, or political support to Darfur’s armed actors. In particular, ‘Forgotten Darfur’ explores relations between rebels and communities in western South Sudan and South Kordofan, and their potential to draw the Darfur conflict into much larger North-South confrontations. Increased linkages between Darfur’s rebel groups and the SPLM-N in South Kordofan, and the overlooked potential for conflict on the Darfur-Bahr al Ghazal border, are also highlighted.
Yemen:Yemen military recaptures Jaar and Zinjibar; interview with AQAP military spokesman features details on May 21 suicide attack, battle for Abyan; findings from May 21 suicide attack in Sana’a to be released next week
Horn of Africa:TFG, Kenyan troops clash with al Shabaab near Qoqani; al Shabaab recaptures Mahas from Ahlu Sunna and Ethiopian forces; al Shabaab arrests four people in Elbur; Somali peacemaker in Beledweyne assassinated; Kenya asks for financial assistance from U.S. ahead of assault on al Shabaab’s stronghold in Kismayo; newly trained TFG soldiers arrive to Beledweyne
Yemen Security Brief
Yemen’s commander of the southern military zone General Salem Qatan reported that the former Ansar al Sharia strongholds of Zinjibar and Jaar in Abyan governorate have been “completely cleansed.” The Yemeni Defense Ministry said that the Yemeni military, backed by armed tribesmen, entered Zinjibar and Jaar where they clashed with Ansar al Sharia militants. At least 20 militants, four soldiers, and two civilians were killed in the attack. Twenty more Yemeni soldiers were also injured. The Defense Ministry added that between 200 and 300 Ansar al Sharia militants, including foreign fighters, fled from Jaar, Zinjibar, and Shaqra. Residents in Jaar reported that militants left behind flyers stating that Ansar al Sharia did not want to “cause any harm to Jaar and its inhabitants.” Additionally, the Yemeni Navy reportedly sunk 10 boats carrying Ansar al Sharia militants.
In an interview with al Quds al Arabi released on June 12, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) military commander Qasim al Raymi provided details on Sana’a’s May 21 suicide attack. When asked why AQAP targeted Yemeni troops when it claims it is at war with the U.S., Raymi explained that the attack was in retaliation for the Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s campaign against militants in Abyan and demonstrates AQAP’s ability to “bring the attack to them.” He added that the battle for Abyan will continue for years.
Yemeni Interior Minister Abdul Qadir Qahtan announced on June 11 that the findings from the investigation of the May 21 Sana’a suicide bombing will be released next week. The attack claimed by AQAP killed over 100 Yemeni soldiers.
Horn of Africa Security Brief
Local residents reported that Transitional Federal Government (TFG) soldiers, backed by Kenyan troops, clashed with al Shabaab militants near Qoqani in Lower Jubba region. Reports on casualties and injuries have yet to surface.
Al Shabaab militants recaptured the town of Mahas in Hiraan region on June 11, reported locals. TFG and Ahlu Sunna wa al Jama’a forces withdrew before al Shabaab fighters arrived. Ahlu Sunna official Saney Mohamud Farah stated that the town fell to the militants due to the increased pressure felt from the growing presence of al Shabaab militants on the outskirts of Mahas.